I have been thinking a lot over the last few days about being a carer and also being cared for. As you may or may not know I am able to look at this from both sides having been a carer for my husband and also now the one being cared for as I fight Cancer.
Granted that the illness is the same but the severity is completely different, my husband was already terminal when he was diagnosed and the time I cared for him was short and very intense, it was literally a baptism of fire, he became so ill so quickly so my role as a carer was full on from the word go. But as soul destroying as it was to watch my husband struggle and become frail I never once wavered - I was going to be there for him every step of the way, I think if you asked any carer, there would never be a question no matter what your relationship that you will be there to see the journey through no matter the outcome.
After my husband passed away I often questioned myself - did I do well enough, was I right or wrong in the decisions I made, and mostly did I become too much the carer and not his wife and friend anymore? It really upset me to think that I might have lost myself in the organising and the doing things to look after my husband and never stopped to take a breath and just appreciate that he was with me and the love we shared.
Its something I think I would tell anyone now who cares for someone, stop and appreciate the little things, when the person you care for has a good day revel in it and look at it as hope for what will be in the future, or for someone like me a blessing that I had this time even if I didn't get to keep it.
I remember that my husband actually told his Brother that he could not have asked for anyone better to take care of him - its something that breaks my heart, even now.
Now, two years later I struggle with wishing my husband was here to help me but also glad that he is not because I would not want him to have to cope with all this - this is the flip side, as the person who is now being looked after I find it hard - I hate putting my family and friends through this, I hate that they see me at my worst and I know how they feel because sometimes there is nothing you can do to help.
I think any carer patient relationship has difficult elements to it, as a carer you have to be strong but you can't put aside all the feelings you have - in my case that the man I loved was going to die and I would be without him, but you have to keep it separate in a way because at the end of the day he was the one dying not me. It is a very difficult dynamic to cope with, I think I only cried once in front of my husband and I felt bad for doing it - he should not have had the added pressure of comforting me as well as coping with everything else. This is why I think it is so important to support people that care for others in this way, the pressure and stress is immense and you need people to help and give you a break, even if its just having a gossip about silly things for five minutes.
I hope that I am not too much of a burden on my parents who are my carers at the moment, luckily I have not been too bad with my side effects so I do not need to lean on them too much - but I am glad they are both here and have each other for support.
Carers give so much, so the only message I can send out from this entry is if you do know anyone, see if you can give a bit of support as being a carer can often be a lonely and isolated place to be.